A pump jack stands idle in Dewitt County, Texas January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Anna Driver

NEW YORK, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Crude inventories last week dropped for a third straight week while fuel demand rose to its highest since March 2020, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories (USOILC=ECI) fell by 3 million barrels in the week to Aug. 20, slightly higher than analysts expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.7 million-barrel drop. At 432.6 million barrels, crude stocks were at their lowest since January 2020.

After 10 consecutive weekly drawdowns, stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures (USOICC=ECI) rose by 70,000 barrels last week, the EIA said.

A tick higher in refinery runs and a tick lower in imports has yielded a third consecutive draw to crude inventories - dropping them to their lowest since late January 2020, said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData. The inventory draw came despite a tick lower in refining activity on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Refinery crude runs (USOICR=ECI) rose by 66,000 barrels per day and refinery utilization rates (USOIRU=ECI) rose by 0.2 percentage point to 92.4% of total capacity.

Net U.S. crude imports (USOICI=ECI) rose last week by 426,000 bpd, the EIA said.

U.S. total product supplied, a proxy for fuel demand, rose last week to 21.8 million bpd, the highest since March 2020, the data showed.

Both crude and gasoline prices gained after the report.

U.S. crude rose 8 cents, or 0.2%, to $67.62 a barrel by 11:13 a.m. ET (1513 GMT), while Brent was up 48 cents, or 0.6% at $71.53 a barrel. U.S. gasoline futures were up 2.5%.

This report is supportive of the market, said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York.

Gasoline demand is at a good level, heading into the end of the summer driving season, he said.

U.S. gasoline stocks (USOILG=ECI) fell by 2.2 million barrels in the week to 225.92 million barrels, the EIA said, exceeding expectations for a 1.6 million-barrel drop.

U.S. East Coast gasoline stocks fell last week to their lowest since March 2018.‚Äč

Distillate stockpiles (USOILD=ECI), which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 0.6 million barrels to 138.46 million barrels, versus expectations for a 0.3 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.

Reporting By Jessica Resnick-Ault Editing by Marguerita Choy

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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